woking borough council

WORK on the Sheerwater regeneration scheme is expected to start within a matter of weeks. Revised plans were approved, subject to conditions, at planning committee last week.

Council approved the release of £42 million for the first phase of the scheme.

A WALK IN THE PARK – Green space is at the heart of the Sheerwater regeneration

Cllr David Bittleston, leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Council agreed to the regeneration of Sheerwater in May 2013 and it has taken much longer than anticipated to get to the point of actually building something. 

“I would like to thank the residents of Sheerwater for their help in shaping these revised plans. I know for many it has been a worrying and frustrating time, but now that we have received the final green light, we can quickly get on with delivering this exciting project, which will provide better homes and better outcomes for the whole community.”

Cllr Bittleston continued: “My intention has always been to deliver the new sports and community facilities prior to building new homes, and last year, Council agreed the release of funds [£26 million] for the new swimming pool, leisure centre and 3G football pitch.

“Hopefully, terms will be agreed with Bishop David Brown School in the next couple of weeks so that work on this important part of the project can start in June.”

The Canalside project will create nearly 1,200 new homes, almost half of which will be affordable housing.  It is a 74-acre development of contemporary homes set within distinct neighbourhoods built around a large central parkland area – the development’s “green heart”.

A new community hub will provide amenities including shops, a doctors’ surgery, nursery and community centre, in addition to the new sports facilities.

The phased project is expected to take six years, completing in August 2025 if everything runs to schedule.

For more details on the regeneration of Sheerwater, please visit www.woking.gov.uk/sheerwater;  
https://www.thamesweygroup.co.uk/work-to-start-on-canalside-the-regeneration-of-sheerwater/

For the full story, including details about the scheme, get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

WOKING’S firefighters are urging the public to sign a petition to halt plans which would see one fire engine with a crew of just four covering the borough at night.

They are also asking people to lobby their councillors and MP as part of a campaign against a reduction in night-time fire service cover across the county.

Local firefighters are worried that proposed cuts will lead to an increase in preventable deaths and injuries

The cuts are detailed in a Surrey Fire and Rescue Service proposal which would see seven whole-time appliances left un-crewed between 7am and 7pm. During this time, 23 engines would be available instead of the current 30.

The reorganisation – called Making Surrey Safer – plans for Woking, Guildford, Camberley and Spelthorne stations to each lose one of their two engines and single-appliance stations Egham, Painshill and Banstead to close completely at night.

The Surrey branch of the Fire Brigades Union is leading the campaign against the cuts, which it says will cause more preventable deaths and injuries and increase the time it takes to get fire crews to incidents.

“There may be fewer house fires than in the past, but 74% of all deaths in fires occur at night, when we need to maintain our cover for that reason alone,” the union’s Woking representative, Graham Whitfield, told the News & Mail.

“We are inviting councillors to come and meet us to find out why we think the cuts will be dangerous, for the public and firefighters.

“We are the troops on the ground and have to deal with members of the public when there is an emergency. If the councillors knew exactly what we do at incidents, then they might change their minds about the cuts.”

He asked the public to visit the station’s Facebook page to find the email addresses of councillors they should lobby and to sign the FBU petition at
https://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/Fire-Cuts/

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

IT’S been 17 years in the making, but Woking fans will now get the opportunity to meet with the new developer for the proposed Cardinal Court stadium development at Kingfield.

With the various cross-party working contracts all signed, Woking’s board of directors are inviting fans to attend a special fans’ forum at Cardinals Bar on 16 April to learn more about the proposed plans to future-proof the National League South club.

For many, it will be the first time that they will have the opportunity to pose real questions to the project team after years of speculation as to what a new Woking Community Stadium project might comprise.

Speaking exclusively to the News & Mail, Wayne Gold, owner of GolDev Woking Limited, which is coordinating the proposed redevelopment of the Kingfield site in south Woking, is pleased with the progress to date.

He said: “When I first met representatives of Woking, they gave me their views and aspirations for the club.  Similarly, I gave my views in terms of ideas and we reached an agreement in principle.  I then went away to pull together the various components.

“There’s a lot of land interest at Kingfield and there were a lot of individual parties that had an interest through one means or another; however, we have now been able to get everyone on board contractually.

“We (GolDev) have since exchanged contracts with the football club and Woking Borough Council and we’re now proceeding with the planning application for the Kingfield site.

“Therefore, it’s the right time to properly engage with fans now that we have something we can share with them and discuss,” he added.

For more information on the time of the fans’ forum on 16 April, please go to www.wokingfc.co.uk or call the club on 01483 772470.

For the full story and further details of how to get involved get the 11 April edition of the News & Mail

WOKING Borough Council should make a stronger response to the proposed reduction in cover at the town’s fire station, says a councillor who was once a firefighter.

A firefighter tackles a house fire

Ian Eastwood, a Liberal Democrat member for Goldsworth Park, spoke out against Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s reorganisation plan at a meeting of the council’s executive committee.

The committee was told that Woking would have two fire engines on call during the day, but only one during evenings and night-time. The same cut would be made at Camberley and Guildford, which send appliances to help if there is a serious incident in the borough.

But Mr Eastwood, who was a part-time firefighter at Chobham for several years, said the night-time cuts could put lives at risk.

“Having just one engine for Woking at night, when we will soon have several tower blocks in the town centre, will not be enough. I know the towers will have sprinkler systems, but if several people need to be rescued from a high-rise fire, it will be very difficult if back-up engines have to come from a distance.”

For the full story get the 4 April edition of the News & Mail

A LEADING Conservative Woking borough councillor has joined the Liberal Democrats, less than a month before crucial local elections.

Graham Chrystie, who has represented Pyrford for eight years, accused David Bittleston, the council leader, of curtailing debate within the Conservative group and proceeding with projects which lacked transparency.

Cllr Graham Chrystie has accused the Conservative party in Woking of failing in transparency and openness

“The Conservative Party in Woking is failing on openness, proper consultation and financial disclosure,” said Cllr Chrystie. 

He added he was surprised that the Conservative administration seemed to be proud that Woking has borrowed more money than almost any other local authority in England. 

“I cannot in conscience remain a member of the Conservative Group,” Cllr Chrystie said.  “I now feel I can work more effectively for my ward residents and deliver what local people want, within the Liberal Democrat group, where I can operate within an established, harmonious and effective team.

“Residents have not been properly consulted on key decisions such as plans for a pub/restaurant on West Byfleet Recreation Ground, a site held by the borough only as a trustee for local residents.”

He will cross the floor for the final council meeting of the year this evening, effectively leaving the council under no overall control of any single group. The Conservatives will have 15 councillors, the Liberal Democrats nine and Labour and Independents three each.

For the full story get today’s (4 April) edition of the News & Mail

A BYFLEET resident is alarmed at the increasing amount of “laughing gas” sniffing taking place in the village recreation ground’s car park.

He says the area is often littered with nitrous oxide bulbs – mini cylinders – as young people congregate there to get high on the gas.

Empty mini capsules used to contain nitrous oxide gas were found discarded in the Byfleet recreation grounds car park

The resident, who asked not to be named, says the recreation ground is not being properly looked after.

There is a graffiti on the skateboard ramps and a large puddle, caused by a blocked drain, has been forming in the car park for two years.

“The nitrous oxide sniffing has been going on for months, but the debris from it has never been as bad as it is now,” he said. “I called Woking Borough Council about it because the ground was littered with bulbs and six or seven of the boxes that they come in.”

Nitrous oxide bulbs, which are commonly used in whipped cream machines, can easily be bought online at around £9.50 for 24. Some retailers state that they are for food use only and restrict sales to over-18s, but others have no age restrictions or warnings.

For the full story get the 28 March edition of the News & Mail

A PETITION to protect Green Belt land in Woking borough from development has been delivered to Parliament and will be sent to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing. 

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Lynn Cozens, Fiona Syrett, Cllr Amanda Boote, Jonathan Lord and Gary Elson.

The 1,250-signature petition was presented to Woking MP Jonathan Lord, who added his signature.

Byfleet and West Byfleet councillor Amanda Boote, along with local campaigners Fiona Syrett and Lynn Cozens and Gary Elson, deputy chairman of the Byfleet, West Byfleet & Pyrford Residents’ Association, were given special permission by John Bercow to present the petition at the Speakers’ Door.

The petition was organised in reaction to the Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD, approved by Woking Borough Council on 18 October last year.)

Cllr Boote said that the petition and the council’s consultation over the DPD will now go to an independent inspector to make a ruling.

“We will hear if we are successful later in the year,” Cllr Boote said.

For the full story get the 28 February edition of the News & Mail

HIGH Street in Woking is closed to through traffic from today, Monday 18 February, for two weeks as part of the ongoing works to transform the town centre.

During the works, Farrans Construction will be installing underground electrical ducting across High Street.

This will involve closing High Street from the junction of Chapel Street to Victoria Way to through traffic. Access for businesses, deliveries and residents will be maintained at all times and limited to authorised vehicles only.

During the works, vehicles will be required to exit High Street via Broadway/Chertsey Road. Traffic marshals will be available to assist drivers and vehicles at all times.

Bus stops along High Street will be suspended and relocated to Broadway.

Woking Borough Council said it thanked residents, workers and all those visiting the town for their patience during the works.

POLICE and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley met with members of the council behind the closed doors of the Civic Offices on Monday to discuss their ‘new vision’ for policing in the borough.

The arrangement provided council chiefs the chance to engage in ‘frank discussion’ with Mr Hurley away from the eyes of the public.

But that didn’t stop the News & Mail hi-jacking both the commissioner and council chief executive Ray Morgan prior to the meeting.

They planned explored future business plans, how to work closer together, and shared concerns over the issues on the town’s streets.

Mr Morgan, said: “I believe we share the same goals, making our already safe streets safer.

“The meeting will enable Kevin to discuss his vision and give elected members a chance to ask him questions to build a relationship that will last long into the future.

“From a council officer’s point of view, there is a neutral interest between us and the meeting will be open and frank in its discussion – hence why we have asked for no press to be present.”

Mr Hurley pledges to take a zero tolerance approach to policing in Surrey, deliver more street policing, to put victims at the centre of the criminal justice system, and to give people more opportunities to have their say about how the force operates.

His mission statement also focuses heavily on the protection of police on the beat. He also believes that better starting salaries are paramount.

Mr Hurley said: “Policing is one of the most rewarding jobs there is, but we must not take for granted the goodwill and public spirit of those who join.

Job satisfaction does not pay the bills. I will also be working alongside Chief Constable Lynne Owens to identify where we have discretion to offer a better starting salary for new recruits that reflects the valuable contribution they make.

“We expect police constables to deal with some of the most dangerous people in our society.

“Officers join the service to help the public, so we must help them.”

FURIOUS Byfleeters are up in arms about an application to turn green belt land into a permanent gipsy site and more than 300 residents have already strongly objected online.

Their anger is further fuelled by the fact that the planning application, originally dated January 12, was only discovered by chance on Woking Borough Council’s website three days before the closing date for comments.

PROTESTERS - village residents, including Andrea Boutell, at the site in Murrays Lane, Byfleet

PROTESTERS – village residents, including Andrea Boutell, at the site in Murrays Lane, Byfleet

No one had received any letters and no notices were put up on the land. In such a close-knit community, word quickly spread around the village and residents inundated the council’s planning department with calls and emails of complaints.

At just a few hours’ notice, 70 residents gathered at the site in peaceful protest.

Police officers turned up and it is believed that gipsies called them out.

Andrea Boutell, whose family have lived in Byfleet since 1850, said: “We are very distressed to hear about this planning application. It is a beautiful piece of green belt land and must not be destroyed in this way – it is supposed to be for agricultural use only.”

The plans submitted are to change the land from agricultural-only use into four pitches to accommodate ‘an extended Romani family’ on the site south of Murrays Lane, to include associated works, four day rooms, hardstanding and a septic tank.

Residents said planning officer Michael Parker initially insisted that notice had been sent out, yet no one had received a thing.

Apparently he then backtracked, admitting that the letters had not in fact been sent out due to a ‘glitch’ in the system.

They also said that the three Byfleet councillors – Anne Roberts, Esther Watson Green and Anne Farrant claimed they knew nothing about the plans, even though they are all on the Woking Borough  Council planning committee.

Villagers now have until February 21 to comment on the application with borough planning chiefs expected to make a decision on March 29.

It is unclear why these plans have been put forward when a previous application for a scout hut on the land had been thrown out.

West Estates sold the land, it is thought, to Tom Valler, of Aldershot. The current planning applicant is believed to be his wife Mrs G Valler.

Mr Valler, who owns a secondhand vehicle business, owns the land to the left where the planning permission has been applied for.

His sister Charmaine Valler and her husband Nathan own the land to the right where she currently keeps animals.

Herself a gipsy, Ms Valler used to be employed by Surrey Community Action (a Lottery-funded charity) as a gipsy and community development officer.

She has been involved in advising councils, including Woking, about the rights and needs of her community.

Andrea said: “Murrays Lane is a single lane only. There are no footpaths and it is not suitable for caravans or heavy vehicles as it’s frequently used by children playing, dog walkers, cyclists and people enjoying the countryside and all it provides.

“The entrance and exit is on a dangerous corner right next to a school. If the plans were approved there would also be additional pressure on our already over-subscribed schools, amenities, doctors surgeries.”

It is thought the scout hut application was rejected because the site is home to one of the largest active badger setts in Surrey, which is only six metres away from the proposed development.

Their habitat and wellbeing is protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

Andrea added: “Byfleet village is a wonderful community where we all look after and out for each other.

“We will not take this lying down.”

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “I can only see this development negatively impacting on the quality of life for Byfleet residents by continued over-development and loss of leisure opportunities and damage to the natural environment.”

Another resident, who again did not want their name published, said: “It is preposterous to think that this application can go anywhere other than the nearest bin.

“As already stated very clearly by other residents, we do more than enough as a county to accommodate travelling communities.

“This is a blatant abuse of the laws relating to planning and should not merit any more time and effort in discussing.

“Spend the time dealing with the current issues that affect the local people of Byfleet and the surrounding areas, which is after all what we pay our council taxes for.”

Another concern brought up was that of flooding.

“Due to the detrimental effect it will have on the environment and wildlife, concerns about construction on possible flood plains would make the existing flooding worse in the village.

“This land should be kept for agricultural use or a natural wildlife reserve only.”

Another villager stated: “Byfleet does not want the makings of another Dale Farm on its doorstep. Please throw this ill-conceived plan out – it has no place in our village community.

A Woking Borough Council spokesman said: “The council can confirm that a planning application has been received and will be dealt with through the planning process.”

Byfleet, West Byfleet and Pyrford Residents’ Association publicity officer Cliff Bolton has arranged a meeting at Byfleet Village Hall on Monday (February 11) at 7.30pm for 8pm.

He said: “It is expected to be a well-attended, heated debate between councillors and residents.”

Cllr Farrant confirmed that she, along with Cllr Roberts, Cllr Watson Green and Surrey County Council Chairman Geoff Marlow will be at the meeting.

Cllr Marlow said: “I will be at the meeting. Naturally the application has roused much interest. I would urge people to keep their heads and keep to the law.

“I understand there will be police presence but I hope their services will not be needed.”

Andrea added: “The only reason the police are going to the meeting is because of safety concerns regarding the sheer volume of people expected to turn up.”

There were more than 300 comments on the council website by W3ednesday of this week. Residents have until February 21 to make their comments known about planning application PLAN/2013/0016 online at the council website. Anonymous responses will be discounted.

However, late representations will be accepted by email or letter until a decision is made. The council said the target date for a decision is Friday, March 29.